YOUR VOICE COUNTS
STATE BUDGET STILL INCOMPLETE
Many advocates gathered at the State House in May and June to challenge cuts in the state budget. Many funds are in play: money for shelters, domestic violence, child care, education, mental health, addiction services and a continuation of Medicaid expansion (Medicaid is now available to 40,000 additional NH residents, including 2,500 in Nashua).
ACTION: Please contact your state senators and representatives to support these areas of the budget. Thank the governor for vetoing the budget; this budget hurts state workers, those who finally can receive Medicaid, as well as those needing addiction and/or mental health treatment. When the state does not fund these areas, the costs shift to local governments, especially the criminal justice system, which is more costly than the prevention and treatment programs.
Despite the fact that presidential contenders are frequently visiting NH, there are other elections happening locally. There was a recent election for alderman, which was won by
Candidate Mark Cookson- find out his views on solving homelessness, coping with increasing poverty, particularly among children (47% of Nashua schoolchildren are participating in free or reduced lunch programs), health care, etc. One very sad statistic is that only about 8% of those who could vote in this election did so.
The next is the primary election in Sept for the next mayor; 6 candidates that I know of are running (could be more) -- (alphabetically) Mike Broderick, Doug Carroll, David Deane, Jim Donchess, Dan Moriarty, and Chris Williams. Ask them where they stand on issues, especially on the impact of the state budget cuts on local tax costs.
PANHANDLING - GETTING TO THE ROOT
A suggested ordinance to curb panhandling in Nashua by emphasizing the public safety aspect of the practice was tabled recently.
Rather than find ways to address this increasing practice in the criminal justice system, let's look at what is contributing to the increase in panhandling in our community. The job market has changed: many jobs available for unskilled workers are part-time, minimum wage (7.25/hr) or slightly above, and with schedules subject to constant change. The use of drugs has skyrocketed as treatment programs decrease (NH is 49th in aid to treatment programs and they are hard to get into).
There are many individuals and groups asking for money/support in public spaces: scouts, athletic teams, political candidates, nonprofit helping agencies, etc., but there appears to be more intolerance of people who are asking for money for themselves because of poverty and/or addiction.
Panhandlers face inclement weather, possibly being hit by a car, and verbal abuse. Giving money to panhandlers may or may not help them and encourages other people to begin panhandling. Let's work on increasing wages and opportunities for addiction treatment instead of laws to curb behavior that can't be adequately enforced and that target poor people.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING GAP GROWS (from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition)
*1/4 of all US renters have income at or below 30$ of area median income.
*3/4 of very low income renters pay more than 50% of income on rent.
*31 affordable/available apts for every 100 very low income renters
*Homeownership and rental vacancy rates are very low-drives up rents.
*Incomes are beginning to increase slightly.
*New multifamily units are designed for higher income groups
*Continued loss of public/subsidized units through conversion to higher $.
Stir these facts and create more homelessness and poverty.
KNOW YOUR LEGISLATORS
Find out the names of your newly or re-elected state representatives and senators and their contact information at http://www.nh.gov/
and ask their support for votes on funding homelessness programs and policies that increase wages and job opportunities in NH. Thanks!
PLACE AT THE TABLE AVAILABLE FOR SHOWING/DISCUSSION
If anyone would like to host a showing of a film, A Place at the Table, which tells the powerful stories of 3 Americans experiencing hunger, please contact me, Eileen Brady, at Eileen@nsks.org or 603 889-7770.
EMAIL LIST FOR QUICK ACTION:
If you would like to be on an email list for quick action on legislative issues, please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
. I promise there will not be an avalanche of posts!
STILL OUT OF REACH
Massachusetts has more people in shelters and motels than ever before at a great cost to the state, largely because of the unaffordability of apartments/houses for those in the bottom 30-40% of income. As rents rise there, they rise in southern NH as well.
Unless the Federal budget begins to include more funds for various kinds of affordable housing, more cuts will need to happen in NH in programs set up to help those with the lowest incomes opportunities for stable places to live. Please contact your NH congressional delegation to support funds for subsidized homes.
HOW TO FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
NSK&S on FACEBOOK
Become a friend of Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and/or Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter Advocacy Page on Facebook if you are on that social network, and encourage others to do so. It is another way to bring the concerns of some of the people in Nashua who don't get heard in most networks to a broader audience. Thanks!
SOME WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT
With much of federal legislation stalled or sidetracked, it is important to get the word out to our representatives in Congress that we are concerned about bills that affect homeless and hungry people in our neighborhood, a number that is growing daily due to job loss, increasing costs, and unexpected health care challenges.
SOME WAYS TO BE INVOLVED
Contact our current congressional delegation to support issues important to eradicate homelessness and hunger, to promote safe, affordable housing and enough food for all.
ATTEND A MEETING OF THE NASHUA CONTINUUM OF CARE OR THE ENDING HOMELESSNESS COMMITTEE
The Ending Homelessness Committee welcomes citizen involvement - contact Eileen@NSKS.org for more information. Come to one meeting or lots of meetings.
The Continuum of Care meets on the first Wednesday of each month (except for July) at 8 am, usually at Nashua City Hall. Usually there are 35-45 people representing agencies, businesses, faith communities, students, organizations, as well as present and/or formerly homeless people. The Ending Homelessness group meets at 9am, immediately following the Continuum of Care meeting.